Rice cuts 'won't hurt exports'

Rice cuts 'won't hurt exports'

Any trade benefit cuts by the United States for six categories of rice products would only slightly affect Thailand's exports, according to a senior commercial official and a rice exporter.

Keerati Rushchano, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said if Washington decides to remove these products from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, the impact will be limited.

He was reacting to a report that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is reviewing petitions involving the removal of six rice products, including parboiled rice, from the trade preference programme for developing countries.

According to the report, the USTR is also reviewing petitions by the Society of American Florists to restore GSP eligibility for freshly-cut roses in four categories.

Mr Keerati said Thailand exports parboiled rice to the US under the GSP programme but it accounts for 1% of total rice product exports. If the GSP eligibility is removed, the impact will be marginal with a tariff rate of 11.2%.

"The department discussed the matter with rice exporters who believe the impacts will be limited. About 90% of Thai rice exports to the US comprise jasmine rice while parboiled rice accounts for just 1%.

"And according to the exporters, the 11.2% tariff rate is not too steep," he said.

He said Thailand has also asked the USTR to restore GSP eligibility for 23 other Thai products including mackerel, processed papaya and processed sweet corn. The decision is expected to be finalised in November, he added.

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